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Manuel Paul López

Blue Print for an American Allegory:
Event for Ten Actors and Two Audience Members

A small drone, or quadcopter, eight inches in diameter. It is equipped with four miniature
propellers, a Go Pro camera attachment, and a blinking light. A misty aura surrounds the
drone. The drone’s exterior is painted the colors of the Mexican flag: green, white and
red. A screen must be available and visible to the audience to see the images reported
back from the drone’s travels. The drone will fly over the audience throughout the
entirety of the event.

The drone’s operator is an eight-year-old boy who wears a Mexican luchador’s mask. He
wears the requisite wrestler’s stretchy pants, luchador’s boots, and a t-shirt with a fading
logo commemorating Mexicali’s centennial celebration. He wears a cape with a
beautifully embroidered mosaic of the great Mil Máscaras. His mask is decorated with
various bright, shimmering colors and fabrics.

A tío, tía, and six primos. The tío is 44 years old and the tía is 42 years old. The cousins
are six boys descending from age 14. The age differences may vary from event to event.

An audience member monitors an EKG machine at the foot of the stage connected to the
boy and periodically reports to the audience by standing up and shouting the boy’s
various readings.

Another EKG machine is connected to a different audience member. When the audience
member connected to the EKG and the boy’s EKG machines match heart activity, the
audience member connected to the EKG will be instructed to shout “It’s happened,”
though the event continues until it reaches its final scene.

Reno, Nevada. The airspace between here and there.

The boy spends most of his time in the backyard of a home he shares with his tío, tía and
six primos who love him very much but who are confused by his peculiar behaviors.
They think he’s strange, and sometimes these evaluations seep out of their minds and can
be heard vocalized behind closed doors and laughter.

His parents work at various packing sheds in California, too many towns to remember, as
he waits for them in Reno, Nevada. His parents call him once a week, and the phone
conversations are always tender and wearied by the great chasm of distance and yearning.

When the boy is not flying his drone, he imagines himself the great técnico at odds with
all of the vile rudos of the world. He mimes elbow smashes, clotheslines, suplexes and
glorious top buckle flight patterns as he leaps from a picnic table and tumbles across the

These battles are immensely difficult because the rudos are just as skilled, except they
possess the willingness to incorporate chairs, baseball bats, and brass knuckles into their
repertoire of war.

Like Dante’s Inferno, the boy has imagined an allegory of retribution. Figures from his
life appear at the center of the ring, those who have threatened, belittled, or defied him
with their inequities. These rivals, however, are not only people, like Felipe, the bully
who held him down one recess and placed his ass on the boy’s face and farted,
smothering his nose and mouth with the foul odor, denim and physical weight of his
cruelty. Additionally, the boy also combats costumed abstractions like loneliness,
distance, isolation, and betrayal.

For example, the boy’s toughest battle was waged against the masked embodiment of
otherness. The match lasted an entire weekend. The arena was filled to capacity. Even
his tío, tía and six primos stood dumbstruck at the sliding glass door with their palms and
noses squashed against the glass.

At the match’s conclusion, the boy and his archenemy remained flattened across the
ring’s canvas in a draw before a sudden Nevada wind whisked otherness away to fight
the boy another day.

The drone flies great distances. The boy has ingeniously rigged the drone with an
imaginary curandero’s concoction made of herbs, Crayola shavings, tamarindo, Tampico
and Chamoy so that it can fly for an indeterminate time, like an immortal and relentless
colibrí, like Earth’s gravitational antithesis, like a mythological deity among an aviary of
drones devoted to war, commerce and other human perversions.

The boy flies his drone over Mazatlán and into his grandparents’ home. He flies it over
the California packing sheds where his parents have worked, searching, just missing them—

The boy flies the drone over the U.S. elementary school that he will attend in the fall;
he flies the drone over his old primaria in Mexicali; he flies the drone
over wrestling arenas in Tijuana; he flies the drone over bi-national pockets of poverty
and violence to prove a clear and clamorous point to myopic politicians; he rests the
drone at Teotihuacán and Chapultepec park.

The drone records the eccentric wanderings in a microscopic black box, the curiosities of
a young boy in a strange land archived forever.

This event will conclude on the night before the boy’s first day of school in the United
States. The boy’s drone will land on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It will then be
transferred swiftly to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault by a team of international scientists.
And it will rest there until discovered among the depths of the meticulously catalogued
chonta defensas by a future audience of theatergoers trying to save itself from itself.


I am disoriented from the daily blood donations extorted from the body via black and
white bloodmobiles.

All that’s left of me is a single drop caught somewhere between the larynx and city hall.

Whenever the court phlebotomist bites into a plum, she’s reminded of me: “Time to give,
time to give some more of that blood to me.”

My doctor, forget about it, she or he is a disappearing act—poof!

In me they see an accessory of blood.

My belt buckle is stitched with red and white blood cells.

I am a walking coagulant.

There are days when the 7-Eleven cashier resembles a needle.

I show him my forearms and say take what you want, it won’t be long before it’s all gone

Governor, issue a drought—please!

Days pass on red velvet slippers. My bathrobe is a bandage.

My morning coffee is gauze dabbed with rubbing alcohol.

I am the animal whose blood is hot and contained, blood that lubes dangerous machinery,
they say.

Tonight I want to inject this anger into the moon because it witnesses the abusive
language of baton and cuff but says nothing, absolutely nothing.

Lunatic! All this lunacy beneath that fat, grey shadow!

Badged pistolero: I want to fall asleep in your arms and soak your shirt.

Manuel Paul López is the author of The Yearning Feed and Death of a Mexican and Other Poems. A CantoMundo fellow, his work has been published in Bilingual Review, The Denver Quarterly, Hanging Loose, Puerto del Sol, and ZYZZYVA, among others.